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Tennessee's new voter ID law in effect as of January 1st

As a new law that will require Tennesseans to show photo identification when they vote goes into effect January 1, Division of Elections officials are continuing their voter outreach efforts.
“Our focus, up to this year’s elections and beyond, is educating voters about what this law will mean to them,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees the division. “Our voter outreach efforts so far have been unprecedented. I commend Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins, his staff, county election officials and all the other individuals and groups across the state who have worked so hard to get the message out.”
“This new law helps us combat a specific type of election fraud known as voter identity theft,” Coordinator Goins said. “This type of fraud is very difficult to detect, absent safeguards like requiring photo IDs.”
To date, the voter outreach campaign on the photo ID law has included events hosted by election administrators in all 95 counties, more than a million pieces of literature being distributed and hundreds of public talks presented. Many of the presentations have been personally conducted by Secretary Hargett or Coordinator Goins.
The division has partnered with groups as diverse as AARP and the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature to target specific groups that might be affected by the new law. Media tools ranging from billboards to social networks have been used to spread information about the law.
Several hundred articles have been written about the law since it was adopted by the General Assembly earlier this year.
The Johnson County Clerk, Tammie Fenner, is one of 30 county clerks across the state who have agreed to issue photo driver licenses at no charge to registered voters who currently have non-photo driver licenses through March 12, 2012, a week after the presidential primary election. Fenner is an existing partner with the Department and currently issues renewal and replacement driver licenses and identification cards to Tennessee residents. Under the new agreement, participating county clerks will forgo the $4 service fee normally paid to the county for providing this service.
The law requires photo IDs for most voters, but there are a number of exemptions. People who vote absentee by mail are not required to show photo IDs, nor are people who are voting from hospitals, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. People who have religious objections to being photographed and those who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee are exempted.
People who forget to bring photo IDs with them to the polls can cast provisional ballots, then return to their local election headquarters within two business days after elections to present valid photo IDs.
The law requires people to show a valid state or federal government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. Examples of acceptable forms of ID include driver licenses, U.S. passports, Department of Safety photo ID cards, U.S. military photo IDs and other state or federal government photo ID cards. College student IDs are not acceptable.
If you do not have an acceptable form of photo ID or would like more information about the new law, call 1-877-850-4959 or visit the Division of Elections web site at
Republican- and Democrat-controlled legislatures have passed photo ID laws in several states. In November, Mississippi residents voted by a large margin to amend the state constitution to require photo IDs for voting.